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Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lacks Funding

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The "I Have a Dream" Speech
Martin Luther King, Jr.

A proposed memorial to slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. has already missed its groundbreaking date because of lack of funds. Land is already set aside for the memorial, along the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., among other famous memorials like the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. But the $100 million pricetag has seemed too high so far for those raising funds for the project. The total money raised now stands at $32.5 million. Twice that amount is needed for construction to begin.

The United States Congress authorized the monument in 1996, but disagreements over the monument's location delayed final planning commission approval until 1999. The Martin Luther KIng, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation was then given four years to raise the $66 million needed to break ground on the monument. Congress granted a three-year extension in 2003, but the fundraising is still lagging, primarily, foundation officials believe, because of the downturn in the U.S. economy during the past two years. Foundation officials also acknowledge that the project might be suffering from a lack of exposure and are planning a nationwide advertising blitz beginning in February, with television and newspaper ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman, among others.

The memorial is planned for four acres along the National Mall's Tidal Basin, right next to the recently completed Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, itself an example of how long a monument built in the nation's capital can take. The focus of the memorial is to be a giant "Stone of Hope," from which King's likeness can be seen. This is a reference to a part of King's famous speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, in which he said, in part, "With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope."

The foundation hopes to break ground next November and complete the memorial in 2007.

For more information and to see pictures of the memorial, click here.

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